The following is Gail Rigobert's contribution to the debate on the Constituency Council's Act.
"Thank you Mr Speaker. I have sat and I have listened to what I think to be a very useful debate but I cannot help but wonder what the viewers and listeners at home must be thinking, that while we grapple with what is largely legal language and perhaps to the average listener the use of "shall" versus " may, " may very well amount to a little more than nomenclature. But there are fundermental issues that they must be pondering on.
To the viewers at home, who would have given me the oppurtunity to represent them in this honorable house, wondering whether I can make fair representation of their concerns and desires in a constituency that happens to be in the opposition, while I would have been handed a Council hand-selected by a minister.
And the question must be, can they be assured that this hand-selected Council will act in the best interest of the community at large versus to operate in the interest or percieved interest of any political party?
I'm sure that is the question that is going through their minds right now. Mr Speaker, we on this side well appreciate the need to build capacity in the various constituencies. We appreciate even more the need to nurture leaders of tomorrow. We are in accordance with that, though the mechanics may raise some questions in our minds. Mr Speaker, we all can appreciate the extent to which good governance hinges on the principles of accountability and transparency. But how can we juxtapose that with a hand-selected seeming political entity that we only trust, hope and pray will act in the best interest of them all.
The people at home listening and viewing, if they can be assured that those Councils albeit hand-selected by a minister, understand that their first obligation is to the people of that constituency, then one would not be surprised therefore, if this bill be evolved into law. Whether the assurances the people are looking for, therefore Mr Speaker, people all need to know that not withstanding the seaming colour of these very persons who sit on these respective Councils that they understand participatory democracy and all that needs.That they understand the core developmental needs of the respective communities. That they understand openness, and most importantly, that they understand that the voice of the Parliamentary Representative is the voice of the people. And therefore, and therefore, in the establishment of any given Council that the voice of the people must be heard from the center and that voice is the of the Parliamentary Representative speaking on their behalf.
Mr Speaker, I know all too well what tribal politics can do albeit I'm very young in the game, and I would want to believe that the Honorable Prime Minister in his wisdom, will pay carefull attention to the construct of these various, various Counclils to ensure that we're not deepening political tribalism in our country.
I trust that the voice of the people will resound through these entities, and that it won't be the voice of a selected few. So as I stand here andspeak to what I understand to be the spirit of this Bill, I want Mr Speaker to ask on the behalf of the many thousands who voted for a particular representative who may very well happen to be on the opposition benches right now that they can be given the assurance that their socio- economic their human needs will be met through this entity and this will not at all disintegrate or resemble any mechanism that somehow is the extension of any given political party.
I have a responsibility to do so Mr Speaker, [because this law] and as I begin to understand the beauty of the revolving door of politics, I can appreciate that one day, just one day very soon I may have to deal with this as well.
So let us speak to this in a very simple dispassionate and clinical way to ensure that the interest of the people are safeguarded, to ensure that coloured politics does not poison this entity and that the spirit that I sense which is being reflected here is up-held. And I trust that the honourable members of government will see to it that the spirit is up-held and they will move to correct the mechanics to ensure that it does not fall prey to political tribalism.
I thank you."